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TFRI News | December 14, 2023

Canadian scientists John Bell and Linda Penn and former media executive Wendy Freeman appointed to TFRI’s Board of Directors

TFRI welcomed three new members to its Board of Directors who attended their first meeting in September. Two are well known and leading Canadian cancer researchers who have also been funded by Terry Fox during their careers. The third formerly served as president of CTV News for over a decade. They were welcomed to the Terry Fox Research Institute recently by the Board’s Chair who praised their formidable skills and achievements and what they bring to TFRI in this important role.

“We are really excited to have two Canadian world-class researchers join the Institute’s Board. John Bell and Linda Penn are leaders in their fields of oncolytic viruses and oncogene functions, respectively and both have deep and broad experience working with various sectors and stakeholders. Wendy Freeman brings a formidable track record of success and comprehensive understanding of the Canadian population through a media lens that is unparalleled,” said Dr. Christopher Paige, chair of TFRI’s Board.

“We are very fortunate to have guidance from this trio, Canada’s finest and best in their fields, who bring their wisdom, passion, talent and commitment to the Institute,” says Dr. Jim Woodgett, TFRI’s President and Scientific Director. “Their knowledge, combined with the skills of our other Board members, will further bolster TFRI’s scientific excellence and leadership agendas and increase our public outreach as we continue to expand and transform the cancer research landscape in Canada.”

Biographies of the three new board members appear below.


John Bell

Bell_JohnDr. Bell is a member of the Center for Cancer Therapeutics at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Center, a senior scientist with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and a professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa. He headed the Canadian Oncolytic Virus Consortium (COVCO), a Terry Fox-funded New Frontiers Program Project Grant team from across Canada that has been developing virus-based cancer therapeutics and is the director of the Biotherapeutics Program for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. He is the scientific director of the National Centre of Excellence for the development of Biotherapeutics for Cancer Therapy, known as BioCanRX. Dr. Bell has been instrumental in developing a Canada-wide network in cell-based research for cancer therapeutics including CAR-T cells. He is passionate about new therapies and in taking bold steps to challenge the most difficult cancers.


Wendy Freeman

freeman_wendy_cropped2Wendy Freeman in her 28 years at CTV News served in every capacity, culminating with her appointment in 2010 as President, a role she held for more than a decade.  As President and VP of CTV News from 2010 to 2021, Wendy was responsible for news, information and current events programming for CTV News, local and national news, including CTV National News and three 24-hour news channels: CP24, CTV News Channel and BNN Bloomberg. Also under her leadership was CTV News’ political shows Question Period and Power Play, and the investigative program W5. She also presided over Canada AM. Previously, Freeman held a variety of senior management positions during her tenure at CTV. Under her leadership, the CTV News division was recognized with a multitude of awards and honours. In 2021, Freeman was recognized with RTDNA Canada's National Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding service and continued excellence in her journalism career. Freeman was also honoured with the RTDNA's 2015 President's Award. Freeman was also named one of Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 by the Women's Executive Network in 2012 and 2016.


Linda Penn

Linda_Penn_croppedA senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Dr. Linda Penn holds a Tier-1 Canada Research Chair in Molecular Oncology. Her research has focused on the molecular and cellular properties of the family of Myc genes that are directly implicated in many types of cancer and which, thanks to her work and others, has recently become a tractable target for new therapies. She is recognized internationally as a leader in the understanding of oncogene function and has driven the identification of Myc binding partners and post transactional modifications. Dr. Penn has also made multiple discoveries in the role of statin drugs in interfering with tumour growth through induction of cell death. She has been a board member of the Ontario division of the Canadian Cancer Society and served on many peer review and advisory committees for cancer research. She is a former Terry Fox New Investigator and has been a member of two previously funded New Frontiers Program Project Grants.